In our society, if your child never learns to play an instrument with traditional instruction and lessons, chances are they will probably grow up to be musically illiterate.
We’re great at numeracy and literacy in our society, but we suck badly when it comes to teaching our kids musical literacy.
We suck even worse at teaching our kids to compose.
I’ll talk about musical literacy and kids in another post, but right now I want to talk about teaching our kids to compose, and giving them the tools to do so.
With the advent of affordable composition software, it has never been easier to create music. It is time to share the gifts of composition with our children.
How old is old enough?
I believe that if a child is old enough to learn to read and write, they are old enough to start composing. And they’re old enough for their music to be performed too.
Composition software is NOT expensive – Sibelius First, the software I use (and no, they’re not giving me a kickback!), costs less than a typical home game system.
Now I’m sure that playing computer games teaches your child some valuable skills – although I can’t quite think what they might be. How to be violent? How to kill aliens? How to pretend to play sports? Maybe.
But getting your child started with composing teaches them:
- Musicianship – they learn the values of notes, and how to put music together
- Mathematics – the bars have to add up!
- Creativity – that great feeling of getting the tunes in your head out on paper and shared with your friends, your family, or the world
- Persistence – the ability to stay on task and focus
- Planning – the ability to take a project from start to finish, from the idea in your head to a full, completed piece
- Computer skills – how to use keyboard shortcuts, mouse skills, scrolling, saving work, and reviewing saved work
- Literacy – Creating lyrics that work and express meaning
- Marketing – Once the piece is finished, your child can think about how to get the word out about their work, and how to get it performed
- Networking – building connections with people who might be interested in their work, building business opportunities, learning networking skills
- Web skills – sure as anything, as they get more advanced they’ll want a blog to market their work. Or maybe they’ll want to submit it to CPDL or similar. They’ll need – and learn – web skills to do these things along the way, just as I did.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Although it helps if you compose yourself, when getting your child started in the road to composition, you don’t have to know anything beyond a few basic music theory rules.
I do think that the combination of learning an instrument, together with learning composition, is unbeatable.
But whatever you decide, encouraging your child as a composer can only help enrich their creativity and musicality, lifelong skills that they will never stop being thankful for.